Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center - Health Library

Other Treatments for Headache

The different types of headache respond to different treatments. Consult your doctor before trying a remedy on your own. Other treatment options that may help ease the pain of your headaches include the following:


Biofeedback teaches people how to control bodily functions they normally do not think about. Biofeedback may help you decrease the number and severity of headaches. During a biofeedback session, a therapist will guide you to relax certain muscles or control breathing, while an electronic device shows your body’s response.

Relaxation Techniques

Relaxing the muscles can help prevent and decrease the severity of tension and some other headaches.

Relaxation techniques may include deep breathing, visualizing being in a different place, or clearing the mind of any thoughts. A mental health professional can teach you how to perform different relaxation techniques.


A trained specialist uses small needles inserted into the skin in specific locations to improve symptoms of pain.


Massage has been used to reduce headaches.

Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation

Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) stimulates the nerves to prevent migraines.

Oxygen Therapy

Breathing 100% oxygen for 10-15 minutes often helps relieve cluster headache pain. The oxygen appears to decrease blood flow to the affected area of the brain.


Mental health counseling can help you develop new coping skills, manage stress, and change your attitude, which often results in fewer tension headaches.

When to Contact Your Doctor

Contact your doctor if any of the following occur:

  • Your headaches are getting worse in severity or frequency
  • You have a new type of headache
  • You have new associated neurological symptoms
  • You develop any side effects to treatment

Biofeedback. National Headache Foundation website. Available at: Updated October 25, 2007. Accessed September 29, 2017.

Cluster headache. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: Updated February 16, 2016. Accessed September 29, 2017.

Fernandez-de-Las-Penas C, Alonso-Blanco C, Cuadrado ML, et al. Are manual therapies effective in reducing pain from tension-type headache? A systematic review. Clin J Pain. 2006;22(3):278-285.

Gupta VK. Botulinum toxin-a treatment for migraine? A systematic review. Pain Med. 2006;7(5):386-394.

Headache. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: Updated May 22, 2017. Accessed September 29, 2017.

Migraine in adults. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: Updated August 9, 2016. Accessed September 29, 2017.

Migraine headache. EBSCO Natural and Alternative Treatments website. Available at: Updated August 2013. Accessed September 29, 2017.

Streng A, Linde K, Hoppe A, et al. Effectiveness and tolerability of acupuncture compared with metoprolol in migraine prophylaxis. Headache. 2006(10);46:1492-1502.

Tension headache. EBSCO Natural and Alternative Treatments website. Available at: Updated September 2012. Accessed November 7, 2012.

Tension-type headache. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Updated July 2012. Accessed September 29, 2017.

Trautmann E, Lackschewita H, Kröner-Herwig B.Psychological treatment of recurrent headache in children and adolescents—a meta-analysis. Cephalalgia. 2006;26(12):1411-1426.

12/16/2008 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance Jena S, Witt CM, Brinkhaus B, Wegscheider K, Willich SN. Acupuncture in patients with headache. Cephalalgia. 2008;28(9):969-979.

Last reviewed September 2017 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Rimas Lukas, MD  Last Updated: 12/20/2014